Kansas has a high volume of puppy mills, fragmented animal welfare resources and struggles with enforcement of current laws. This is a state that would benefit from increased collaboration between local animal welfare organizations and law enforcement.
The HSUS is making a three-year investment in Kansas to expand the capacity of animal welfare officers to respond to animal cruelty, drive up enforcement of state laws, and provide shelters with services and training to expand their reach and decrease euthanasia.
Kansas has the dubious honor of being one of the largest producers of puppy mill dogs in the country, and has just four USDA inspectors to cover the entire state. To make matters worse, Animal Control Officers in the state have limited training and resources. While the Kansas state sheltering system has made incredible progress in recent years—banning gas chambers and death by gunshot —many are overrun with the burden of carrying for seized and disposed puppy mill dogs. In Kansas, law enforcement conducts seizures instead of the Department of Agriculture (DOA), which puts a burden on the local shelters to accept and hold those animals on cruelty charges.
While the state does have a bonding law, very few counties have accepted it, leaving shelters with the financial burden of caring for dogs awaiting trial. The Kansas Pet Animal Act, passed in 1989, requires licensing of all dog and cat breeders who produce, offer or sell three or more litters during the state fiscal year. The law needs to be modernized and updated, is ineffectively enforced and is under attack by those who want to roll back protections. Humane breeding groups in Kansas and the Governor’s companion animal board support keeping USDA-liscenced kennels and hobby breeders accountable under the act.
The Kansas Pet Animal Act itself says “you may inspect” instead of “you shall inspect,” which means the DOA does not have to do anything unless a complaint is reported. This means we need to drive action.
The Humane State program will connect the dots between animal protection laws and the people who enforce them. Shelters and rescue communities will be given the resources to report issues, and law enforcement officers, prosecutors and state agencies are will be given training and resources to enforce those laws.
The HSUS will provide support to the shelter and enforcement community of Kansas to ensure the greatest impact for pets and people in the state. The HSUS will also improve standards of care in commercial dog breeding operations through policy efforts and consumer engagement.